Casebook Of Gregory Hood
The Casebook of Gregory Hood
Tired of the role, in 1946 Basil Rathbone decided not to renew his contract playing Sherlock Holmes on radio’s The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Writers Denis Green and Anthony Boucher, needing a low budget summer replacement for it, came up with the idea for a San Francisco-based detective show called The Casebook of Gregory Hood. The main character, rather than being a traditional detective, was an antiques expert who encountered crime in his travels while seeking artifacts for his import house. The character was loosely based on real life importer Richard Gump, who served as a consultant for the program and was even portrayed by Bill Johnstone in the episode “South of the Border.” Another thing that set Gregory Hood apart from other detective series of the time was that it often used real people (sometimes portrayed by actors, other times the person would play themselve), places and landmarks in its episodes. Cities even flew in the series writers in order to convince them to write an episode about them!
The Casebook of Gregory Hood – often listed as The Case Book of Gregory Hood that first season – debuted on the Mutual Broadcasting System June 3, 1946, occupying the 8:30 PM timeslot previously held by The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The show’s initial format was nearly identical to Sherlock Holmes. The narrator would typically stop by Hood’s home or office to hear a story from his casebook. Hood’s sidekick, friend, and lawyer Sanderson “Sandy” Taylor was often an integral part of story – much as Holmes’ friend Watson was in the Sherlock Holmes stories. The storytelling itself – like Sherlock Holmes – was structured as a frame story, a style well known from its use in The Arabian Nights and in other examples dating back more than two thousand years.
Green and Boucher penned most of the first 26 episodes. However, when Sherlock Holmes was revived that fall (now on ABC and starring Tom Conway), they followed. Ray Buffum replaced them for at least into late 1948.
The role of Gregory Hood was initially portrayed by Gale Gordon. When the show was extended past the initial 13 episodes, though – and he needed to return to The Great Gildersleeve – Gordon was replaced by Elliott Lewis. Lewis continued in the role – while also appearing in or directing several other series at the same time – until the show’s move to ABC in 1949. Others to play the lead included Jackson Beck, Paul McGrath, Martin Gabel, and George Petrie.
Bill Johnstone played Sandy Taylor in the first episode, and then by a few other people before Howard McNear took over the role with the ninth episode, “The Forgetful Murderer”. McNear continued in the role until at least mid-1949. John McGovern played Taylor in at least the initial ABC episode.
The show itself was a success, even exceeding the ratings of Sherlock Holmes. However, in May 1947 it was announced the show was being canceled after 52 episodes, as Petri Wines was not going to continue its sponsorship of the series due to the collapse of the domestic wine market. In March 1948, however, Mutual brought the series back – even paying Petri Wines (who owned the rights to the series) for the privilege of doing so! Initially the less-expensive William Conrad was to play Hood, but Elliott Lewis ended up reprising the role.
Gregory Hood continued on the Mutual network for more than a year, before moving to ABC October 15, 1949. It struggled to find an audience there and bounced around the schedule quite a bit before settling into Wednesdays at 8:30 PM for the first half of 1950, then Thursdays at 8:00 PM after that. It was again canceled, with the final episode airing August 31, 1950. Another attempt was made to revive it in October 1951, but it appears to have lasted only two episodes.
All told, more than 150 episodes of The Casebook of Gregory Hood were produced. Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of those are known to exist – less than 20 complete episodes as of the time of this article.
Basil Rathbone. (2020, March 4). Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia: https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Basil_Rathbone
Boucher, A., & Green, D. (2009). The casebook of Gregory Hood. (J. R. Christopher, Ed.) Norfolk, Virginia: Crippen & Landru.
Dunning, J. (1998). On the air: The encyclopedia of old-time radio. Oxford University Press.
Now comes a network that pays a sponsor for his programs. (1949, September 18). Courier-Journal, p. E11.
Radio roundup. (1948, February 13). Hollywood Citizen-News, p. 22.
Radio-TV briefs. (1948, September 10). Hollywood Citizen-News, p. 24.
Rich, A. (1947, May 7). The listening post. Valley Times, p. 20.
Rich, A. (1948, February 24). The listening post. Valley Times, p. 12.
The casebook of Gregory Hood. (2021, March 21). Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Casebook_of_Gregory_Hood&oldid=1013388982
OTRR Release Information:
Series Name: The Casebook of Gregory Hood
Release Status: OTRR Maintained
Release Date: April, 2022
Release Version: v 2204
Number of DVDs: 1
From the Old Time Radio Researchers Group. See "Notes" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
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